January 30, 2008

Terror in the Aisles

In 1974, the classic Hollywood clip-compilation THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! was a major success, and it paved the way for many similar compilation films over the years. A decade later, MCA Universal got wise to the fact that horror movies were garnering huge profits at the box office so, hoping to cash in on the craze, they released TERROR IN THE AISLES. The film's advertising proclaimed: "If you can handle more than one hundred jolts of one hundred percent pure terror, then you might be ready for 'Terror in the Aisles.'" Unlike ENTERTAINMENT, which featured nearly a dozen stars introducing some of their favorite film moments, TERROR featured only two hosts, HALLOWEEN's Donald Pleasence and CARRIE's Nancy Allen.

The hosted portions are set in a darkened movie theatre and very little insight is offered on the films themselves (despite the fact that TERROR is generally labeled a 'documentary'); it's merely a well made montage of memorable clips from many, many classic horror films from the silent era through 1983 -- and from all of the major studios (which would be undoable today because of all of the hubbub with acquiring rights). Included are a few brief scenes from CARRIE. Oddly enough, they had Nancy Allen right there, yet none of her clips are shown and she doesn't comment on CARRIE. An alternate version of the movie was released on television which substitutes some of the more graphic scenes for more network-TV-friendly ones. While this doesn't affect the scenes from CARRIE, it's worth noting that the TV version features some scenes from FIRESTARTER.

Though not the huge, mainstream hit that THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT was, TERROR IN THE AISLES remains a favorite in the horror community, and it's easily the best compilation of its kind ever made. The film was released on home video twice; first to video stores in the mid-80s, then on a more reasonably priced VHS aimed at consumers in 1992. Presumably, re-acquiring the rights for the myriad of clips for a DVD release would be cost prohibitive, so horror buffs are stuck with VHS and DVD-R copies. If you're a fan of classic horror, it's well worth seeking out.

Below is a brief section from the film (including a few glimpses of CARRIE) that's offered as a trailer at Video Detective, the home of many rarely seen and long forgotten movie trailers. Although it's (strangely) not an actual trailer, it offers viewers a good idea about the way the 'documentary' plays out.



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